Imagine you have this neighbor who constantly mocks your choice of outfits - as does the rest of her family. Some comments are worse than others, but it’s more or less constant, running the gamut from passive-aggressive quips about how cute you look when you dress like an urchin, through patronizing concern about how you shouldn’t really wear that color or this style, all the way up to open disparagement of your taste, your body, and even your family background.
This goes on for long enough that, one day, you decide you can’t take it any more. You set your favorite clothes aside, and start to copy what your neighbors wear. Though some of the very worst comments still reach your ears - the stuff about your body and family, because that sort of rudeness was never about your clothes at all - the day-to-day harassment steadily drops away, allowing you to get on with your life.
Though you still feel sad that at how much you had to change to win the approval of people you have no choice but to deal with, you decide that ultimately, you prefer not being harassed. Your defiant sister, though, takes the opposite approach, and vows to be as brave and unapologetic in her wardrobe as ever. And that complicates things for you: because even though your sister understands why you changed, she still feels like you’ve abandoned both her and yourself in some fundamental way; and even though your neighbors have stopped trashing you, they still disparage your sister in your hearing, sometimes even praising you for having the sense to be like them instead. It’s stressful in a whole new way, but you cope. You cope, because you have to.
And then, one day, with no warning at all, you see your neighbors wearing new clothes that are clearly based on - if not identical to - your old ones. The ones they mocked you so viciously for wearing.
You are furious. Shocked. As politely as you can - which isn’t very, under the circumstances; voice shaky, fists clenched - you ask them what the hell they’re doing.
And they laugh at your anger. They laugh. They tell you it suits them better than it ever suited you, and what’s the problem? It looks trashy on your sister, but on them, it’s bold and classy and fresh, and all the more so for being unexpected. Fashion changes, they say - why, just look at you! You’re wearing clothes like ours, and we’re not angry about it. So why should we feel bad for wearing clothes like yours? Why can’t you be flattered that we’re copying you at all? It’s a compliment, really!
Having mocked your clothes to the point that you stopped wearing them, they’re citing the fact that they bullied you into copying their look as a reason why it’s OK for them to now copy you - and all the while, they’re still insulting your sister. Your neighbors are abusive, oblivious douche-canoes of the highest order. And you know what?
When you, a privileged white person, decide to wear stuff like war bonnets and saris for fun - when you appropriate from the cultures of people of color; people who have been relentlessly and historically mocked, abused and discriminated against by people like you for wearing the fashions that they invented; fashions which have a specific historical, cultural and personal significance for them that’s manifestly absent for you?
Then you, my friend, have become the ass-hat neighbor.
What the fuck kinda bow and arrow set is that
Another year, another Thanksgiving photoshoot of Divas dressed as ~sexy~ NDNs
Content note: racism, cultural appropriation; mention of sexism, transphobia
So The University of Sydney was going to have a ‘day of the dead’ party (link to the facebook event here (SERIOUS TW FOR RACISM)), but they’ve since revised their theme to ‘fiesta’ -.-‘. I’m actually just too tired to post in any great depth about all the racist shit that went down on the event page today, but there are some highlights after the jump:
CL (from 2NE1)- The Baddest Female
Several of my followers have been telling me about this new music video by kpop star CL from 2NE1, so I decided to check it out. The Korean media has a long history of anti-blackness, so I came in expecting some amount of fuckery from this video, and sadly wasn’t disappointed.
Of course in the video for a song in which CL frames herself as being the “Baddest Female,” she casts herself as the caricature of a “gangster” African American woman. I mean who better to exploit and stereotype than African American women, who’s bodies have historically been stripped of agency and have had their identities and work constantly and violently appropriated from whily-nilly? This is a song about being a “bad female” and portraying yourself as a black woman for the greater part of 4 minutes is obviously the best way to drive that point home.
So how does one become a caricature of an African American woman, might you ask? Well let’s explore what CL’s take on it was.
(Image description: CL in a black belly shirt, with a black fitted cap adorned with the letters “GZB,” wearing a studed golden chain with a 3 pointed star in the middle [like a Mercedes logo], golden earrings, and 2 large rings with words that stretch across 4 fingers each. All set against a black background with bright lights in circles, surrounding a white insignia with the letter “G” in the middle)
Fitted- check. Black belly shirt- check. Chain with a Mercedes logo (?!)- check. Massive golden rings with words- check.
Oh wait… you can’t forget the (vampire) grills, though!!!
(Image description: close up of CL’s face with eyes covered by cap and just mouth and nose shown on her face. Mouth is opened in a grimace and she is wearing golden grills over her teeth)
Oh, and the crew! Don’t forget the crew!
(Image description: CL on left in a red and black plaid shirt with a black and white patterned bandana around her head. She has tattoos in shapes similar to water droplets down her arm. She is flanked by 3 men to her right, all in black and white. Man closest to her is in a full black and white pattenered outfit with matching bandana tied in his hair. Man second from right is wearing a black leather jacket and hoodie, and the black and white bandana is covering his mouth. He has a fitted cap on his head and his hoodie is up over the cap. Man farthest right is in a black shirt with a silver chain over his stomach and a black and white jacket patterned with chains. He also has a black and white patterned bandana over his mouth along with another one tied around his hair. All figures are standing in front of a maroon car with flames decorating the doors)
Wait…. let’s hold on the crew for another minute
(Image description: CL in the middle in red and black plaid shirt with a black and white patterned bandana tied around her head while looking at the camera. She has four dancers behind her, all in black and white plaid and wearing black ski masks with the letters GZB across the top completely over their heads (masks which only show eyes and mouth))
And what crew in the hood is complete without the pimp carrying his pimp cane?
(Image description: Man in foreground wearing a black shirt with light red embroidery on the chest and with 2 large golden chains with an eagle and the letter A enclosed in a circle on each one. He is wearing a black wig with long straight hair with bright red tips and a top hat. He is posturing for the camera looking “cool” with his pimp cane outstretched toward the camera and off the screen. He is in front of a maroon car, on top of which on the left side of the image is one man is sitting in brown sunglasses and in all black and white clothing and a predominantly white bandana with a black pattern covering his neck. Another man is standing next to him in all black and white patterned clothing with a black and white bandana over his mouth and one tied around his head as well)
She’s so hood ain’t she?
(Image description: foreground has CL facking backwards with her hands in the air, in a black jersey with the words “BAD” across the top and the number 91 underneath. Background has stripes of 3 different colors and a large emblem with feathers and the letter L enclosed by a C in the middle)
And I didn’t even bother to take a picture of her sitting in her studded gilded bicycle…
After chillin with the crew, though, she was tired and wanted some “her” time, so she obviously decided to head to the jungle with her girls to get her hair done
(Image description: CL in a white top with a brightly colored and patterned jacket sitting in a chair while a hair dresser, in a black and white square patterned jacket and teased hair, toys with CL’s hair)
And I mean, if you’re gonna be black, might as well go all the way and have one of your friends dancing as a leopard in front of a shack in said jungle.
(Image description: a dancer in a leopard costume dancing in front of a shack with a crowd of people, including CL, clapping and cheering them on)
This video is offensive in the ways in which it stereotypes and caricaturizes African American women, gangs and the ghetto. It’s offensive because, even though this is intra-POC, it is disrespectful (I mean, her crew, honestly?) of those identities. Why was the choice made to portray CL as a parody of African American women from the ghetto, appropriating aspects of the identity for commercial gain in order to seem “cool,” even as an African American woman would likely get shamed for presenting herself in the same way. She’s making a mockery of black culture in the ghetto and the realities of gang culture as well. She’s even mocking the harsh realities of the sex trade in these communities as well, by including a fake “pimp” in the video.
And all for a laugh. All just to portray yourself as the “baddest” of all—a black woman from the hood.
It’s sad that videos like this are produced which so trivialize a people and aspects of a culture and exploit them for commercial gain. And it’s even more sad that this is something that happens so often to the black community, and black women in particular. Parading yourself in blackface just short of putting on makeup is wrong, point blank, and I can only hope that the world of Kpop changes over time to the point that appropriative and anti-black videos like this are a thing of the past.
Until then… one last one of the crew for posterity before ending
Though I believe CL’s outfit with the red plaid shirt with the black sweatpants, white sneakers, and head bandana is more reminiscent of the stereotypical Latina Cholas, CL’s music video for 나쁜 기집애 (“Baddest Female”) is problematic and offensive, to say the least.
I didn’t really know how to describe Big Bang’s “hip hop image”— especially with Taeyang’s cornrows and GD’s blonde cornrows in his recent solo music video “One of a Kind”—but now that I do, I feel both relief for knowing and embarrassment on behalf of the Korean entertainment industry.
*While I’m neither a Latina woman nor a Black woman, I just wanted to share my thoughts on CL’s music video as a Korean woman. This post is an absolutely awesome, insightful, and necessary critique of CL’s music video. Also, before some misunderstand, I don’t hate Big Bang and I definitely don’t hate CL (of 2NE1)!
**There is another important lesson to learn here too: Just because you like something, doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t be able to talk about it! So ultimately, I just wanted to say that it’s okay to like problematic things—in fact, it’s expected of you!— but you must learn to critically [objectively] analyze and, of course, critique problematic aspects of the things or people you like, and thoughtfully, carefully listen to others’ [valid] opinions and critiques too. Also, don’t beat yourself up over liking problematic things and don’t close yourself off from everything problematic… Considering almost everything has at least problematic aspect to it.
So you wear your hair in braids, or tousled, coloured. You wear long skirts and all your jewelry at once. You like the idea of freedom and travel and long to be with nature. The photographs you post are pretty, there’s no denying it,
but they are not “Gypsy”.
See, Gypsy is an ethnicity. It’s a label that was given to an ethnic group a long time ago. It’s a label that has marginalized and murdered Roma, Sinte, and others even just yesterday.
Me som Romni.
Ame sam Roma.
Your pictures and poems, as pretty as they are, don’t reflect the history, culture, or language of my people. In fact, they are represent a danger to us. A threat.
Why? They’re just pictures right?
No, they’re not. They’re a misrepresentation of an entire set of peoples. Gypsy doesn’t just refer to ONE ethnicity (not the white, stereotyped, Irish Travellers you see on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding).
There are many ethnicities all crammed under the exonym. This serves several purposes. Firstly, it takes away our individuality and serves to marginalize our cultures even further. It’s like calling people “Asian” or “White” - words which cluster large groups of people together and erase important cultural markers and individual languages and so forth. It makes it easier to pass laws and regulate our traditional ways of life (just ban everything “Gypsy” and you strike against multiple nomadic and travelling ethnicities all at once (nomadic and travelling are not the same).
So, when you post a picture of a white girl in a pretty skirt and call it “Gypsy”, not only are you using a slur (an aspect which I’ve deliberately not mentioned in this post - that’s another thing entirely), you’re effectively erasing my identity, and the identities of countless other groups.
Not only is Gypsy considered an ethnic and racial slur - it’s also simply wrong. When you tag your pictures you’re stating that “Gypsies” are white and adhere to the cultural practices you promote (bare feet, smoking pot, sexual promiscuity, lying and stealing (a lot of the poetry I read in the tag seems to suggest we just like to steal men, period), and sitting on the beach/in a field/in a forest half-naked.
Most of which, by the way, are against our cultural rules (the only questionable one is bare feet - some allow it, some do not).
Even if you refuse to believe that the word Gypsy is a slur, at least realize that by tagging white hipster girls you’re erasing millions of peoples identities and creating an image that is not only false and misleading, but incredibly damaging.
Hyper-sexualization and fetishization of cultures promotes and condones sexual violence against women. Posting such images tagged as Gypsy is dangerous for ME as a Romani woman.
Similarly, posting images of women doing drugs (especially combining sexualization) is even more damaging.
I’ve actually been approached by a group of young men asking me if I wanted “to smoke out and get banged” because I was a Gypsy (they knew from a presentation I had given to their senior college class. They were all at least 23 years old). It was frightening (I was alone in an area of campus and there were seven of them…
Please just think before you tag. Use another label - indie, hippie, boho, whatever it is,
don’t label your pictures and poems as “Gypsy”